Balancing the Sword - A comprehensive study guide to life's manual
Perfect to frame the discussions of your family worship or a church-wide study.


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Definition of word.


A vocabulary or lexicon is a collection or range of words or phrases included in a language, field of study, level of education, book, or person's knowledge. Individual’s possess a

  • speaking vocabulary (i.e, words that we can use or understand in speech),
  • reading vocabulary (i.e, words that we can use or understand in print),
  • spelling vocabulary (i.e, words that we can spell), and
  • working vocabulary (i.e, words that we comfortably use in our normal activities).

We may be strong in one form while weak in another.  In fact, illiterate adults often possess strong conversational skills, yet they cannot read the words that they speak.

The size of a vocabulary is measured by the quantity of words or phrases. A vocabulary’s sophistication is determined by the breadth, precision, and rarity of the words or phrases included. Dictionaries contain vocabulary words arranged alphabetically. A Bible concordance (e.g., The Strong’s Concordance) contains Hebrew and Greek words also arranged alphabetically to help students better understand words found in the Bible.

We are born without a vocabulary. Our oral vocabulary is developed as children before our reading vocabulary.  As toddlers, we understand the world in simple terms of good or bad and in other elementary expressions. As we grow, the word good can be replaced with more precise words such as tasty, colorful, comfortable, mighty, quick, brilliant, etc.

A large oral vocabulary facilitates the quick development of our reading vocabulary. Those with a narrow vocabulary, such as children, struggle to read most literature. The broader vocabulary that a person possesses, the less difficulty a reader will have with reading fluency. Therefore, the more focus the reader can give to understanding the concepts conveyed by the words. (See reader's background knowledge.)

The Bible includes specialized words. (See academic vocabulary.) Some translations of the Bible are designed for new readers. However, these translations often forfeit accuracy for simplicity. See the readability of translations to learn more.

Vocabulary words can be divided in several ways: figurative, idiomatic, technical, common, etc. Vocabulary words can also be divided by function: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, etc.

Our understanding of a word's meaning should include both denotations (i.e., direct meanings) and connotations (i.e., indirect meanings).

A reader's vocabulary determines his semantic cueing skills.  Cueing systems will increase your vocabulary.

Also see content area vocabulary and high frequency content area vocabulary.

Author: Allen B. Wolfe

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Balancing the Sword is a structured study guide for every chapter of the Bible.